John Kozicki, Owner/Instructor
John Kozicki is a musician, a songwriter, and a music fan. He’s taught hundreds of students all across the country. Some have found success in the music industry through touring and recording ventures, while others have found a fulfilling hobby in playing and performing music. In all of his students though, he’s learned that their individual interests and enjoyment are just as important to the learning process as the content.
John began teaching guitar and songwriting full-time in 2004 when he moved from Michigan to Colorado to teach at the Denver School of Music. While in Denver he found that encouraging his students to perform resulted in increased motivation, greater longevity in lessons, and ultimately a greater understanding of their instrument and music in general. In the years that followed he began integrating things like open mic performances, instructed band rehearsals, and other interactive performance opportunities into his teaching. In 2008 John moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and established Music & Rock School. As the owner of the studio John was able to develop an environment focused on performance and band/ensemble work where students performed and rehearsed in groups on a regular basis. As the owner of Music & Rock School, John oversaw a roster of nearly 150 students with the help of the most talented instructors in the Raleigh/Durham area, and established Music & Rock School as the area’s top music school. Under John’s guidance, in 2012 Music & Rock School was honored with a Diamond Award from Cary Living Magazine, voted “Best Place to Expand Your Horizons.” He was also an active member of the Apex Downtown Business Association in Apex, North Carolina. In 2011 he cofounded the Apex Jazz and Music Festival and continues to work on the festival planning board on a volunteer basis. At the end of 2013 Kozicki decided to move back to Michigan to raise his kids closer to family. While he no longer runs Music & Rock School, the studio and programs he established continue under the leadership of two of the school’s senior instructors. In early 2014 John set out to establish a similar musical environment in Oakland County, and Michigan Rock School was born.
As a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Kozicki has been performing and studying music for nearly 25 years. He has performed, toured and recorded with independent and major label acts, and as a solo performer. In addition to his music career, John holds a degree in marketing from Oakland University. He has used those skills working for a public relations firm, a non-profit organization, even a skate park, but the office life just didn’t suit him. He’s much happier making his living teaching people how to rock out.
Cole Garlak, Guitar Instructor
Born into a large family of professional musicians, it is little surprise that Cole Garlak became one himself. At a very early age after hearing the blistering solo in Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ Cole was hooked on both guitar and rock and roll. It wasn’t long before Cole found himself playing gigs at school dances and parties, beginning his journey as a songwriter, and releasing basement recordings. In his late teens, he began studying music theory, and branched out into classical and jazz guitar styles to cultivate his passion for teaching guitar lessons. Now with more than 15 years of teaching experience, Cole has a unique gift for connecting with students and helping them cultivate their own passion for music.
As a true working musician, Cole has a wealth of experience both performing live and in the recording studio. He has released three albums of original music with his independent band, Calling Marvin, recorded vocal tracks for radio jingles, and performed in cover bands such as Joselyn B. and the Detroit Street Players, AC/DC tribute band High Voltage, and Led Zeppelin tribute band Electric Magic. On occasion Cole can be seen performing high-profile gigs with his cousin, Tony Lucca, finalist on NBC’s The Voice, such as the 2013 Thanksgiving Day Half Time Show at Ford Field. Other notable performances have included opening for artists such as Smashmouth, N’Sync, and Mark Anthony at venues including The Palace of Auburn Hills, and DTE Energy Music Theater. Currently you can regularly catch Cole performing solo acoustic gigs at Downtown Milford’s Palate, Casey’s of Walled Lake, or corporate event gigs with the band Cancel Monday.
We are excited to have Cole Garlak as a part of the Michigan Rock School team, and he is excited to share his vast musical knowledge with students!
Tony Tomshany, Guitar/Bass/Ukelele Instructor
Tony Tomshany’s approach to teaching and playing guitar, while grounded in traditional rock music, also resonates with modern musical styles. On the academic side, Tony studied jazz guitar and music theory at Washtenaw Community College, and also has a certificate in Guitar Building and Repair from the Galloup School of Lutherie. However, over the past decade Tony has blended this traditional foundation with his use of 6, 7, and 8-stringed guitars to develop his own playing style that might best be described as “modern and heavy”. With his vast knowledge of the guitar’s functionality and applications, he does a fantastic job of breaking it down in simple terms for his students and teaching them how they can have fun with an instrument that can sometimes seem complicated.
In lessons, Tony strives for a comfortable environment for learning and his students enjoy his friendliness and patient approach. His lesson plans are written around students’ interests and goals, and creating a solid foundation for learning guitar. Tony hopes to instill his enthusiasm and love of guitar and music in all of his students.
Tony performs regularly with his band Hearing Shapes, and also does solo/jazz gigs at local coffee shops and wine bars. Tony is a true fan of guitar in all it’s forms and applications, and loves sharing his knowledge with his students. We are excited that he is passing that knowledge on to our students here at Michigan Rock School.
Christian James, Keyboard/Piano and Voice Instructor
Christian James is a composer, keyboardist, and musicologist whose education and professional experience span three continents. Born in France to British parents and raised in Commerce Township, Christian got his start writing and performing songs for voice and piano at various venues around Milford, including the very first Huron Valley “Got Talent” Competition in 2009.
Christian received his Bachelor of Music degree in composition and ethnomusicology from Oberlin Conservatory, where he collaborated with many classical, folk, and jazz musicians from around the country and world. Upon graduation, he received the Oberlin Shansi Fellowship to North India, through which he spent two years collaborating with folk musicians and film artists while working for a non-profit organization in the cultural hub of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. Christian is thrilled to be returning to his Michigan rock roots by teaching keyboard with a truly international flair.
Isaac Perry, Drum Instructor
Isaac Perry is a lifelong musician and teacher who discovered a great passion for drumming at eight years old. Over thirty years later, he is a professional educator with a wealth of musical experience. Having trained under several advanced instructors for twelve years, Isaac is well-versed in rock and roll, punk, blues, funk, jazz, African and Cuban beats, and polyrhythms. His main musical influences included John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins), Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Brendan Canty (Fugazi), and Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews Band) among many others. He has performed with a variety groups and musicians over the years, most notably the Detroit-area rock band Fieldtree with whom he recorded and toured over a five-year period. Isaac graduated from Michigan State University and entered the field of teaching in 2001; he now works at Lakeland High School in White Lake where he serves as the English Department Chair. His love of teaching, learning, and music often intersect, and his students can all testify to his passion, energy, and enthusiasm in the classroom. As a professional educator, Isaac understands the value of building strong relationships with his students, getting to know their personalities and preferences as learners, and individualizing methods of instruction to best match the students’ needs. He lives in Milford with his wife and two children, and his family often participates in community events related to supporting local musicians and artists. In addition to drumming, Isaac also plays guitar, sings, and composes original songs. Overall, he is extremely motivated to share his love of music, teaching, and learning with his students at Michigan Rock School.
Syd Burnham, Vocal Coach/Acoustic Guitar
Syd Burnham immersed herself in music at an early age. She began singing and playing guitar at 6 years old, and performing shortly thereafter. Just as some parents encourage their kids’ athletic interests, Syd’s parents did the same for her musical aspirations, exposing her to music from the 60s through the 90s, and taking her to concerts whenever possible. As a result, her vocal background is strongly rooted in rock and blues, and she cites the soulful voices of artists like Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, and Grace Potter as most influential on her as a singer.
While her personal vocal style most reflects her rock roots, her background in choir and her classical training have helped her to refine her technique. In addition to her vocal background, Syd is also an accomplished songwriter and guitar player. As such, she loves when students aspire to integrate songwriting and instrument accompaniment into their voice lessons. Whether her students are interested in pop, rock, country, or classical, her approach in lessons is first focused on the students’ strengths and interests as a foundation, and she helps them expand from there.
Syd currently performs and tours regionally both as a solo artist, and fronting the band Red Herring.